Inspiration vs. Plagiarism

It’s a difficult subject that has been the center of discussion forever; what is plagiarism, what is “taking inspiration” from a photo? Where do you cross the line and when do you go too far? And where do you get inspiration?

When I have a vague idea in mind for a shoot or a look, I look online for pictures that resemble what I have in mind, and I make a moodboard. This helps my team tremendously to visualise what I want. When I have a very clear idea, I make a drawing.

Working from a moodboard

This is an example of a moodboard made with Pinterest. These images are copyrighted, which means they are not your property. However, all these images combined can give you random ideas to use for a look. The ponyails of picture 1, combined with a face harness like picture 3, …
If you do this, you cobine inspiration from different ideas and this makes a whole new look.

Working with an example picture

When you work with a model (or photographer) who has their own idea, it can be a good choice to ask for an example picture around which to work. If you copy the image exactly, that’s not really creative and I consider this plagiarism. However, like in the example above, I recreated the overall style of the hair as the model requested, but the make-up is completely different. We also added a hair accesory, and her hair color and shorter fringe makes it into a totally new picture.  When a client requests a special hairstyle, I like to talk to them to determine if they really want it exactly like in the picture, or if I can add my own twist to it.

Working from a drawing

I like to draw out an idea I have to show my team what I have in mind.  Sometimes an idea just hits me, and before I forget it, I try to draw it really quickly. (I’m sorry, I used to be much better at drawing, excuse my awful attempt!)
An idea like this is (mostly) 100% original and a very nice way to get your idea across. Sometimes I like to randomly sketch things and sometimes this also gives nice ideas.

The most important thing in any of it is: taking inspiration from somewhere is completely fine, but always give it your own twist. Get your creative juices flowing! If you’re just going to recreate an image, then what’s the value of your image? Nothing we haven’t seen before. Try to innovate, think outside of the box, and get inspiration from everywhere.

I get my inspiration from random things: not only magazines, tv, pinterest and Facebook groups, but also nature, things I find in a thrift shop, toys, comic books, … Inspiration lurks everywhere, it’s up to you to use it well.

What is your main source of inspiration? What was the most original idea you’ve ever executed? How do you feel about plagiarism or people who tend to copy your ideas? Let me know in the comments!

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